Professor leading world’s biggest food allergy study to speak to Manchester Allergy Support Group

On Monday 1 July 2013, Professor Clare Mills (from the Allergy and Respiratory Centre at the University of Manchester) will be attending a Manchester Allergy Support Group meeting. She will be talking to the group about the iFAAM study, which launched in March 2013 and is the world’s biggest ever study of allergies.

What’s the iFAAM study about?

iFAAM, which stands for “Integrated Approaches to Food Allergen and Allergy Risk Management”, is being led by the University of Manchester and will bring together food allergy experts from the UK, Europe, Australia and US. The study is expected to take three years to complete.

Professor Mills (who is heading up the project) said:

“This is a massive research project which will have far reaching consequences for consumers and food producers. The evidence base and tools that result from this will support more transparent precautionary “may contain” labelling of allergens in foods which will make life easier for allergy sufferers as they try to avoid problem foods.”

At present, if a prepacked food or alcoholic drink contains one of the top 14 food allergens (or an ingredient made from one of them), this must be declared on the food label. The 14 allergens include both peanuts and nuts. From December 2014, the Food Information for Consumers Regulation 1169/2011 (EU FIC) will extend the allergen labelling requirement to foods sold non-prepacked and foods prepacked for direct sale. However, both the existing law and EU FIC only regulate those ingredients intentionally added to the food. They do not cover allergens which are added accidentally, for example due to a manufacturer using the same equipment for, say, both plain and nutty biscuits. For more information, see Deciphering UK food allergen labelling law.

The iFAAM study will build new risk models to support allergen management in factories, which, in turn, will minimise the use of “may contain” labelling.

In addition to producing a standardised management process for food manufacturers, the iFAAM study will:

  • Develop tools to measure allergens in food, which will allow the validation and monitoring of manufacturer’s allergen management plans.
  • Develop safe allergen thresholds, which would give the food industry guidelines to work within and should reduce the use of “may contain” labelling.
  • Try to predict which allergy sufferers are likely to suffer a severe reaction.
  • Look at whether early introduction of allergenic foods and other nutritional factors may protect against developing allergies. This would then inform the nutritional advice for pregnant women, babies and allergy sufferers.

For more information on the iFAAM study, see:

(See also my related blog post on the TRACE study).

Manchester Allergy Support Group

As mentioned above, on Monday 1 July, Professor Clare Mills together with Debbie Hughes (Allergy Nurse Specialist, University Hospital of South Manchester) will be attending a meeting of the Anaphylaxis Campaign’s Manchester Allergy Support Group. Professor Mills will be talking to the group about the iFAAM study.

For more information on:

  • The support group meeting on 1 July 2013 with Professor Mills, see the Manchester Allergy Support Group”s July poster.
  • The topics to be discussed at the Manchester Allergy Support Group throughout 2013, see the group’s list of discussion topics.
  • The group generally, with leader Michelle Byrne’s contact details, see the group poster.

Update (September 2013)

Please see the Events page for details of the Manchester Allergy Support Group’s forthcoming meetings.

One comment

  1. I’m 75 yrs old. Have suffered from very severe migraine since childhood, up to 11 years ago. Migraine has ruled my life for all those years. Eventually, pain killers ‘backfired’, & created more migraines. I read & read about possible causes, & after eliminating a LOT of foods, I now have a restricted diet; never eating out or buying ready prepared food/meals. I cook all my own foods, BUT, I have not had a headache now for at least 11 years. I did it by trial & error, & it took ages but worth not having the dreadful pain of migraine.

    I am even careful what I use on my skin, as some ingredients can cause a migraine.

    I hope you will continue with your good work & draw public attention to foods, illness & allergies. My GP was no help at all, only happy to dish out pain killers!

    Kind regards,

    Sylvia James.

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